Positive ageing from the grassroots up

A grassroot community campaign, organised by UnitingCare Ageing, has gone far to promote greater respect for older people.

The grassroot ‘positive ageing’ movement is alive and well, following the success of UnitingCare Ageing NSW and ACT’s recent campaign to promote greater respect for older people.

This year’s Respect for Seniors campaign, which is only one year old, grew to involve 18 congregations from its simple beginnings of merely one.

The movement was celebrated with an intergenerational activity at St Ives Uniting Church(Sydney) in late June to raise the community’s awareness of ageism and to promote ‘positive ageing’.

Attendees wore purple to demonstrate their support for both the cause and the older members of their congregation.

Director of UnitingCare Ageing, Gillian McFee, said that Respect for Seniors was an extension of their Elder Abuse Awareness Day celebrations, which promoted a similar message of equality for our most vulnerable.

“What happens in our community with an increasing ageing population is that we tend to discrimination against the aged,” said Ms McFee.

“Discrimination is rife in our community. One only has to think about retirement age. As soon as someone reaches 60 years old, they are put on the scrap heap…That reflects how we design services for older people.”

Students from Abottsleigh and St Ives High School also participated in an ‘Elders Interview’ on the day with Judith Wheeldon AM. Five students asked Ms Wheeldon poignant questions about her past experiences and opinions of ageing, for the listening pleasure of the entire congregation.   

Ms McFee said that the intergenerational conversation encouraged the day’s younger attendees to consider a different, more accepting perspective on ageing.
“It’s about respecting their experience and knowledge, and as a younger person, taking from that, what you can to influence your decisions in life.”

Ambassador for Ageing, Noeline Brown, who also spoke at the event, stressed the importance and contribution of this nation’s seniors.

“Older Australians are literally this country’s living memory; the repository of all that makes the wonderful nation we are today,” Ms Brown said. 

“We live in a time where we could strengthen the bridges that in former times were stronger between the generations – I would like us to rebuild the rivers of wisdom and experience that once flowed more easily from the old to the young.”

Ms McFee said emphasised the importance of grassroot campaigns and community involvement in the promotion of the positive ageing cause.

“The importance of a grass roots movement is to promote anti- ageism and support the principle of social inclusion.”

In the upcoming weeks Ms McFee will be involved in extending the leverage of the campaign’s success: “If we can go from one to 18 in one year, who knows where we can be in three years?”

Tags: aged, ageing, ageing-, care, for, positive, respect, seniors, unitingcare,

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